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Reviewed August 30, 2016

Kalundewa was the second stay on our honeymoon. The retreat is set in 100 acres of land and it is interesting to see the farming operation that is in place. Cycling around and exploring the site was good fun. The wildlife adds a charming aspect to the stay and we saw water monitors (huge lizards), water snakes, mongooses, peacocks and an abundance of other birds. There is also a 4 storey watch tower where we could watch the sun going down – we got some great pictures from here. Being set in Dambulla allowed us to take an excursion to the Golden Temple and Sigiriya rock on the same morning – the hotel organised this for us and the driver (who also completed our 4 hour transfer to Colombo airport) was excellent – explaining the different aspects of culture and stopping for us to take pictures – this was good value and Sigiriya was the main reason for our stay in this area so we were happy.

We stayed in the Lower Bakmee chalet and on first impressions the room is striking – the architecture is modern and it seemed relatively private, exactly how the pictures suggested. However, the ceiling only separates you from the room above by a single plank of wood and this meant that we were kept up a lot of our first night with large footsteps and talking from the room above – it sounded like the guest above was in our room due to the high ceilings – this was not the privacy we anticipated for our honeymoon. I would recommend the Kumbuk chalet that is set back by itself for anyone looking to stay in private. The Bakmee chalet is also quite close to the main building so you can become disturbed by staff watching TV etc. Whilst the jacuzzi outside is quite a cool addition, it was also unusably cold. The seating outside was comfortable and it was quite pleasant watching the wildlife whilst sat on the deck. We had room service for lunch once and this was the best food we had throughout our stay. The room was turned down twice a day which was a positive. The iPod dock was outdated and wouldn't connect using bluetooth which was probably for the best for our guests upstairs..

Overall the service we received was helpful, if a little morose or confused at times. All of our needs were met (apart from being left at the pool when we were expecting to be collected on our first day) but the hospitality was definitely the least engaging we experienced throughout our stay. Being a retreat with very few guests the atmosphere was lacking.

The most warmth and engagement we received was from chef Lal, who is a smiling and positive influence. We enjoyed his cookery lesson and he taught us a lot about the spicing and methods used in this style of cooking. He is obviously very proud of his garden and it was fun to be shown around and select the ingredients we then cooked with. This is why it saddens me to say that overall, the meals we experienced were disappointing and overpriced.

Many have mentioned the excessive prices and the fact that you have no choice but to pay the exorbitant charges but I wish I had heeded their warnings. The best meal I had at Kalundewa was a chicken sandwich, the rest were sadly not to mine or my new wife's taste and were often served cold. Food is a massive draw for us and sadly we overlooked this as a factor in our stay here as it was regrettably substandard, which then had a knock on effect on the rest of our stay.

In terms of other activities there are kayaks and pedal boats to use on the small lake which we took out a few times – we saw some interesting wildlife so I would recommend this. The fresh water pool was good (about a 5 minute cycle away) and it was nice to have the bikes to ride around on. As others have mentioned these are generally single geared so can become frustrating. They have a resident naturalist but we felt the prices of the activities on offer were too high to justify.

On reflection, 4 nights was too long to stay here. We went looking for the finest Sri Lanka could offer and perhaps set our expectations too high after seeing the pictures. To summarise, this was a good stay in a place that offered some interest without blowing us away. It is, however, let down by the high food and drink prices and the poor quality of the meals.

Date of stay: August 2016
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
1  Thank robdrane
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2016 via mobile

Great service. Excellent 2 story chalet built partially on the water. Nature all around.

Great as a base to explore the nearby cultural sites such as Sirigiya and Dambulla caves temples. Make sure u plan a day or an afternoon to enjoy the "nature" around the hotel.

Date of stay: August 2016
1  Thank Daniel T
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2016

A magical place in a very natural setting. It's quite remote and sooo green, with great views. We loved their concept of growing almost all their own vegetabes and even rice, and all organic. The chef took us to the garden one day and we picked our own veggies, with which we later cooked our own lunch at a cooking class by the amazing chef Lal. A must do!! He is such a wonderful man!
There are only a few houses/rooms, and our house was set partly on top of the lake, with huge glass windows which made it a unique experience. We had a private terrace and pool and there were lots of birds. A great guy came to clean our pool every day.
We strolled around the property for hours and it truly is a beautiful setting.
The local food (CURRIES) is awesome!! The western options we did not like as much. But then again, that was the case (at least for us) all over Sri Lanka.
Staff is super friendly!

Date of stay: July 2016
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Jojanneke S
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2016 via mobile

The resort was outstanding in terms of concept, accommodation and logistics. The food was delicious and sitting in the restaurant lovely. The stars and fireflies made the nightime magical. The chef was lovely and created a very nice menu.
We kayaked on the lake, climbed the obsevation tower and rode bicycles around the plantation. Nothing was too much trouble for staff.
My daughter unfortunatly fell of the bike and hurt her knee quite badly. All the staff looked after her, picking her up in the buggy, washing the wound and helping us to sort everything out. I was overwhelmed with their kindness.
I cannot recommend this resort enough. We didnt take advantage of the natural swimming pool or the services of the naturalist, because of events as described but i am sure they would have been lovely experiences too.

Date of stay: August 2016
Trip type: Traveled with family
1  Thank travelfan221
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2016

We spent two nights in one of the lodges (with two bedrooms). The rooms were very spacious and comfortable, the architecture pleasingly modern and the grounds are very impressive ( 100 acres of vegetation, water and agriculture). We saw many birds, a lizard swimming in the water, and many other small animals. The service was very pleasant and efficient (better than in most places in Sri Lanka). The food was fresh and based on the veggies and herbs from their own gardens.

I would recommend this place to anybody who wants to be in a quiet, modern and well run place. From there you can visit Sigirya, Polonnawulla and other places in the cultural triangle, and come back in the evening to a very peaceful place. It is a bit far from the city so you need to get your transport organised, but the staff is helpful.

Date of stay: August 2016
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Arnoud D
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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